This Kenmore Square institution made its name catering to a wide range of dinersSox fans, tourists, restaurant industry types, students, the list goes onand treating them all as if they were the most important people in the room. How do they do it? By taking notes on every diner who comes through the door. Yes, it’s a bit Big Brotheresque, but this kind of close attention ensures that you enjoy your steak frites and whiskey smashes just as much as you did the last time. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
Husband-and-wife team Ryan and Kimberly Habbyshaw take the term “locally made” seriously: Watch as the paper enthusiasts bring their witty, colorful greeting cards to life on a 1911 printing press at the center of their Pinterest-worthy Union Square shop. Of course, if you just need to pop in for a few delightfully analog everyday accoutrements—Autopoint pencils, Appointed notebooks—they stock those, too. 21 Union Sq., Somerville, MA loyalsupplyco.com.
While these days any clothing boutique worth its counter-side Hanky Panky display boasts a 'denim wall,' none can touch the selection at the downtown Barneys. The racks and tables and shelves of jeans include the blue-chip (True Religion, Paper Denim & Cloth), the hard-to-find (Acne, Edun), and the affordable (J Brand, Cheap Monday). Bargain hunters salivate over the store's semi-annual sale, which recently saw a pair of $300 Ksubis go for less than $60. 100 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 2116, barneys.com.
You know what they say about cleanliness and godliness. Which must be why visits from Crystal Clean always leave your home so divine. A four-person team buffs and shines down to the hard-to-reach spots and tops it all off with finishing touches—dusted reading glasses, triangle-folded toilet paper—that other services often skip. Boston, MA 2116, crystalcleanboston.com.
A caged kennel for Fifi? Quelle horreur! Now there's a doggie bed and breakfast where she can lounge like she's in her own living room. Common Dog, which opened last year, boards dogs overnight in a home-style setting, right down to sleeping on worn sofas and romping in a gravel backyard with wading pools. It also doubles as doggie day-care service, picking up canine campers in a small white bus so they can play while their owners are out earning their kibble. 22 Park Terrace, Everett, MA .
You won't find modern, four-star Greek cuisine at this hole in the wall. But in an oddly delightful way, it reminds us of every humble neighborhood taverna we've savored in Greece, from the blue-and-white paper place mats to the scattered but amiable service. The tzatziki is a house specialty, the moussaka hearty and delicious, the ;horiatiki a true Greek salad—all plates so tasty, we'd be loath to smash a single one. 202 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 2141, desfina.com.
The Martin's formula—cozy atmosphere plus simple, delicious food—lures regulars out of bed to feast on crisp veggie omelets, buttery-rich French toast, and grilled muffin specials (the oatmeal cinnamon is stellar). Paper mats and crayons top the wooden tables, and the waitstaff often plucks up the best drawings and tacks them to the diner's bulletin boards. Despite repeated attempts, we've never made the wall, but we'll happily continue to get full trying. 49 Railroad St., Great Barrington, MA 2351, .
Miss your adolescence? The Formica booths at Little Stevie's aren't just seats, they're time machines that sweep you right back to braces, babysitting money, and after-school specials. And the pizza's right there with you: pillowy, bubbly, and doughy edges with a paper-thin and oven-charred crust, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, and a hot, dense layer of mozzarella. Say what you will about teen angst; pie this good makes it all seem worthwhile. 1114 Boylston St., Boston, MA littlestevespizzeria.com/.
This is what you might call seafood in the rough: You stand at the counter, shout your order, eat it, and leave. But paper plates and plastic cutlery aside, there's very little that's actually rough about Woodman's, which offers some of the smoothest fried seafood around. The breading isn't a disguise for a small and salty chunk of meat, as it is at lesser seafood shacks, but a crispy golden complement to the tender bivalves beneath. 121 Main St., Essex, MA woodmans.com/.
Some suburban day spas, catering as they often do to busy moms, have entirely missed the point of an escape: A noisy cut and blow-dry during a massage is not relaxing. But the Lexington outpost of Bella Santé gets the pampering thing down perfectly with imported teas, soothing music, and peaceful treatment rooms. And, of course, one-at-a-time services that are stress free. 76 Bedford St., Lexington, MA bellasante.com/.
At a resort, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. But not here, where a personal concierge caters to your whims. That's a welcome addition to the Ocean Edge, which has undergone $50 million in renovations to its villas, mansion rooms, and restaurants. So now you get the coddling you'd expect from a boutique hotel, plus smart touches like a fridge stocked with ice cream and all the fixin's for s'mores if you book a villa. 2907 Main St., Brewster, MA oceanedge.com.
Too often, South Shore diners are stuck in that wasteland between kid-friendly chains and adult-only, white-tablecloth restaurants. Enter Wahlburgers, the brainchild of chef Paul Wahlberg. From classic double cheeseburgers to creative specialty sandwiches (like the "Thanksgiving," with ground turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce), this place caters to kids and more-refined palates alike. Of course, the creamy frappes will gratify all generations. 19 Shipyard Drive, Hingham, MA 2043, wahlburgers.com.
The Four Seasons' lounge caters to both sorts of solo patrons: those who find themselves alone, and those who wish to be left alone. The skilled barkeeps are the city's quickest studies of stag drinkers, able to gauge whether you're up for a chat, a snack, or a stiff drink and silence. And the Bristol's cozy appointments make it perfectly suited to parties of one. 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, .
Warning: This is not the type of corner café you can turn into a makeshift office. Instead, the dual-use space, shared with Downtown Crossing’s Graffito SP, caters to serious coffee fiends. Presiding over the Modbar espresso machine are former Coffee Trike barista San Bellino and his team, who dole out the best cortados around using nuanced beans from partner Patrick Barter’s central Massachusetts roastery. That attention to detail also extends to the eats, with cheddar-chive-bacon biscuits and molasses scones prepared daily by Townsman pastry wiz Meghan Thompson. 108 Lincoln St., Boston, MA 02111, gracenotecoffee.com.
Kristen Repa has seen (and made) a lot of wedding cakes: Before launching her own bakery more than a decade ago, she honed her sweet skills at local institutions like Konditor Meister and the Catered Affair, and even trained at the renowned Konditorei Gerstner, in Austria. Whether you want your cake to match your theme, your personality, or your gorgeous gown, Repa and her team of pastry chefs will turn out an exquisite confection that tastes as good as it looks (dulce de leche or lemonsummer berry, anyone?). 302 Providence Hwy., Westwood, MA 2090, dessertworks.net.